Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Weeks 4 & 5

2.5

During these weeks, I found myself more open to Indigenous ways of understanding than ever before. As we were learning in our seminars, I took bits and pieces of information that were brand new to me and it helped me challenge my privilege. For example, during one of the seminars, we were asked to fill out a form to buy land. But it was in a completely different language. I could not even fathom having to do go through that. This too me back to the complexities of naming, but also of how important language is. I am challenged to be a teacher that does not only rely on my first language to teach every student. I am going to have students in my class that will come from different cultures than myself, and some will without a doubt speak another language. It is my responsibility to learn what I can as a form of reciprocity. Does it scare me? Yes, because it seems impossible. But I think just taking one step at a time is realistic.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 3

3

We had a field trip to Fort Qu’Appelle and Lebret. I was both excited and nervous for this field trip because I knew it was going to bring a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. But I also knew it was going to be very raw. We were going to be in the exact same area as where Treaty 4 was signed. We were also going to be in the exact same area as where one of the residential schools was. The fact that there was a gym still standing, was surreal to me. When we had the opportunity to spread tobacco on the land, I was scared at first. I was scared because I thought it was contradicting to my beliefs. But, the best thing I did was ask what it actually means. As I stated in a previous post, it is easy to just take what many people say as truth, when many people also lack accurate knowledge or understanding about the practices. Because I was able to seek the truth, I was able to contribute to scattering tobacco on the sacred land.  But, I also took it upon myself to pray as I walked around. I did this in my head. My heart was heavy, knowing what had happened, and what is still happening on this land.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 2

3.5

The complexities of naming is what we started with this week. I had never realized how important language really is to ones identity. It is easy for one to ignore something if it does not affect them personally. Learning that people do care about the language I use, requires me to have courage to even ask an individual. It is not a one size fits all. Some individuals may prefer to be called a broad term of First Nations, while another individual would rather be referred to as specific as a Lakota or Cree individual. Always keeping in mind that for so long, these names were stripped away from the first peoples of this land, and the complexity of it is understanding why it is so important today. To have courageous conversations with the people I meet to find out how they want to be named.

When I heard about the pipe ceremony, I was a bit nervous. I went into it not really knowing what to expect. Except that I had to wear a skirt. I did not own any skirts. So I e-mailed Sheena and asked that if I did not own a skirt, what would be the more respectful second option. I believe there is wisdom is actually making the effort to take part in this ceremony despite the fact I did not own a skirt. When Sheena e-mailed me back and said I could use a blanket to wrap around, I felt a sense of relief.

As a single mom and university student, I don’t have a lot of money. So although Sheena said I could use a blanket, I really wanted to make the best effort I could to take part in the ceremony as appropriately and as authentically as possible. I was able to find 5$ and I quickly searched the internet to find a used skirt. And I did. For exactly 5$. It felt good to be a part of the ceremony, and going into it with eagerness to learn and give it my best attention. I think I can also see it as a form of reciprocity, because I used the only money I had left, to engage in the pipe ceremony sincerely and humbly.

Living Treaties as kihci-asotamâtowin – Week 1

3

We opened this week with an ice breaker. Sheena had all of us sit in a circle and share who we think we are and where we are from. The plot twist of it was that each individual has to reiterate what the previous person(s) stated about themselves first. This required careful listening. But it also required vulnerability because it was the first day and we are already getting personal. Also, it took courage to have to speak aloud and remember what everyone else said.

We ended the week with the blanket exercise, which also required vulnerability and courage. I am specifically referring to the talking circle at the end, as well as the final handshake of showing reciprocity. I have never experienced any of these practices before. The smudging ceremony before the blanket exercise was also brand new to me.

As a Christian, I want to love everyone, regardless of differences in beliefs or cultural traditions. But, I also want to use wisdom and discernment to know what I should and should not get involved in. But what I know is, is that smudging is a scared ceremony. And after experiencing everything that day, I realized that if I want to know the purpose behind each practice, I am capable of finding that out, and not taking other peoples words for it. I believe wisdom requires one to do their own research and not always accept what others tell you.